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Purchase The Proper Townhouse

Twenty years ago, townhouses had a reputation of being poorly built and in the wrong location, but over the last 10 years that perception has been turned around.

Townhouses are delighting owners nationwide. But if you’re buying with an eye to investment, the difference between a townhouse with great growth potential and a less impressive performer is not always apparent to the untrained eye.

To guide us in buying the right townhouse, spoke to two experts: Michael Finger, Director at Ray White, Double Bay, smack in the middle of Sydney’s exclusive eastern suburbs; and Paul Osborne, founder of Secret Agent, a buyer’s agency specialising in inner Melbourne.

I started by asking our experts what accounted for townhouses’ image makeover in the last 10 years. Osborne told me that from around 2000: “There was a concerted push back into the inner city  and what many buyers found were old terraces which were cramped, had rising damp and lacked natural light.”

“Putting up new townhouses on small blocks of inner city land was the developers’ response. These two and three level buildings created more accommodation and their elevation delivered natural light and a view over the rooftops that older houses lacked.”

And how is the townhouse market playing out now? Finger told me that in Sydney, townhouses are being snapped up.

“The older ones come at an attractive price point for younger couples entering the market. At the higher price level, what’s driving interest is downsizing empty nesters. With the uptick in the market, this older generation have been able to sell the family home and see a townhouse as a better alternative than an apartment.”

“Many downsizers look at high rise buildings, but the owner corporation levies are often lower for townhouses. Some strata apartments are charging two thousand dollars a quarter, even five or six thousand dollars a quarter, which is just ridiculous.”